OTTAWA — A skydiver who was killed Saturday evening in a parachuting accident east of Ottawa has been identified as Brad Giffin, 54, Wichita. Members of the sheriff’s office, Lincoln-Ottawa-Harrison Fire Department and the skydiving company began a search after Giffin didn’t land in the drop zone, Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Richards said. Giffin was found in a field about a mile east of the drop zone, Richards said. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Richards said Giffin was an experienced skydiver, who had made more than 500 jumps. There was no immediate word on what caused the accident. The accident is under investigation and the FAA has been notified and will take part, he said.
Monday, Aug. 11, 5:30 a.m.; updated 10 a.m.
OTTAWA–One thing that is holding down the Ottawa city budget is decreasing costs for employee health insurance. During the Ottawa City Commission Budget Hearing, Finance Director Scott Bird noted that from January through June in 2012, the city spent about $1,200,000 in health insurance. This year for the same time period, the city paid out a little over $700,000.
Wed, Aug. 6, 10:40 pm
OTTAWA — Retired Wellsville school principal Randall Renoud upset long-time incumbent County Commissioner Don Stottlemire in the Republican primary for the 5th District in eastern Franklin County. Renoud said he would immediately connect with his new colleagues on the commission as well try to ensure an open line of communication with residents of the district. Because no Democrat filed, Renoud will be the likely commissioner. His election was one of the few surprises in Tuesday’s primary elections. With a few exceptions, all of the primary races involved Republicans. Sheriff Jeff Richards, in his first election race as sheriff, handily won the primary over his challenger, Mike Reed, Wellsville police officer and former Franklin County deputy. Richards doesn’t have a Democratic opponent, so he’ll continue as sheriff. Richards said he’ll working on the projects he started after he was appointed by county Republican leaders to fill the unexpired term of Jeff Curry. Reed said he thanks all of the people who supported and campaigned for him. He offered congratulations to Richards. In the hotly contested primary race for the Kansas House of Representatives 59th District, a race that featured nasty radio commercials and mailings, incumbent Blaine Finch, who is finishing his first two-year term, easily won his primary contest over conservative challenger Bob Fluke, the Franklin County Republican Party chair. Finch is a moderate who was the target of conservative groups, and the race attracted sizeable spending by shadowy groups. Finch often characterized some of the commercials and mailings as lies and dirty tactics. He will face Democrat Scott Barnhart, who was unopposed. In Pomona, voters narrowly rejected two proposals that would issued more than $1 million in street repairs and to refinance an older sewer bond issue. The proposals would have added about 8.5 mills to the city’s property tax levy. In Miami County, Phil Dixon barely won the Republican nomination in a three-way race for the 1st District of the Miami County Commission. Dixon beat the second place finisher, Jacob Vickrey, by three votes. Dixon received 311 votes, Vickrey 308 votes, and Nate Apple 272 votes. Incumbent Commissioner Danny Gallagher had an easier time in the three-way Republican race for the 5th District of the county commission overwhelming his challengers Merle McKoon and Beverly Shane votes received 169 votes. No Democrat filed in either race, so the winners will be the next commissioners. Incumbent Commissioner Ron Stiles, Spring Hil,l didn’t have a Republican or Democratic challenger. In the 37th Senate District covering northern Miami County and southern Johnson County, one-week incumbent Sen. Molly Baumgardner defeated challenger Charlotte O’Hara for the Republican nomination. No democrat filed in that race. Because Pat Apple resigned the senate seat after he was named to the Kansas Corporation Commission, Baumgardner was appointed to the seat and served during the cleanup session. An off-year election was scheduled.
Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2 p.m.
OTTAWA–If everything goes well, the Ottawa Airport will have a new advanced weather reporting system in a few months. The city has applied for a grant to install the Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS). City officials say some pilots have said they will not use the Airport unless this advanced system is added.
Monday, Aug. 4, 9:15 pm
OTTAWA — Ottawa Fire Department and Kansas Fire Marshal investigators were to begin combing through the remains of the Bethany Chapel Church, 135 S. Poplar St., which was devastated by a fire early this morning. The fire caused heavy damage to the front of the church and to the basement. At 145 years, the historically-black church is one of the oldest in the city. Ottawa police noticed smoke coming from the basement and first floor of the building and alerted firefighters, Fire Chief Jeff Carner said. The fire appears to originated in the basement and spread to the first floor when firefighters arrived, he said. One wall collapsed. Before the wall fell, firefighters were pulled out of the two-story church building by Carner. There were no injuries. There was no immediate cause or estimate of damage. However, church documents stored in the basement were likely destroyed, said The Rev. Armogen Walker, the church’s pastor. His office had a library of books worth $20,000 to $30,000 as well as photos and other priceless memorabilia, he said. He said he was told that the fire had spread into the office although he was hopeful that some items, especially the photos and other memorabilia could be salvaged. The church is one of the oldest in the city and the congregation had planned to celebrate the 145th anniversary of the church in two weeks, said Richard Jackson, a church deacon. The church building was moved to its present site in the 1920s, he said. The congregation will decide later today where to meet now that the church is unusable, Walker said. However, within a couple of hours, the congregation had already received offers from several churches to hold services, he said. The church will rebuild, and the congregation will be stronger for the experience, he said. “The Lord’s going to keep us … she will go back up, we will rebuild Bethany Chapel,” Walker said.
Monday, Aug. 4, 7:30 a.m.; updated 8:30 a.m.; updated 10 a.m.
OTTAWA–U.S. Senate Candidate Milton Wolf made a campaign stop in Ottawa City Park. During a brief speech, he accused incumbent Senator Pat Roberts of waging a negative campaign. He also accused President Obama of wanting to become a dictator and says he wants to become senator to put a stop to Obama’s actions.
Tuesday, Jul. 29, 9:40 pm
OTTAWA — Ottawa neighborhoods will celebrate National Night Out on tonight beginning at 6 at several locations in the city. About 15 neighborhoods will hold block parties, cookouts, games, and youth activities, and meet with local government and emergency officials, Ottawa Police Capt. Adam Weingartner said. National Night Out is national effort designed to promote safety awareness and neighborhood unity and show the importance of police-community partnerships, Police Chief Dennis Butler said. The Ottawa event held a week early because of the DARE Camp, he said. Weingartner said all of the neighborhoods that have registered with the city will receive a visit from the “parade of lights” of emergency vehicles and police cars during the evening.
Tuesday, July 29, 2 p.m.
OTTAWA — A 49-year-old Wellsville man was injured when his motorcycle went off the road along Old Highway 50 Saturday afternoon. Michael Whalen was riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle south on Old Highway 50 near Louisiana Road when his bike left the road and struck a fence, the Franklin County Sheriff’s office said. Whalen was taken to Overland Park Regional Medical Center.
Tuesday, July 29, 2 p.m.
OTTAWA — Two separate burglaries results in the theft of guns this weekend. The Franklin County Sheriff’s office saysid a 53-year-old Ottawa man reported several of his guns were stolen from his vehicle parked in the 2000 block of Indiana Road east of Homewood sometime before Sunday afternoon. The loss, which included four shotguns and three rifles, resulted in an estimated loss of $2,850. A 25-year-old Ottawa man reported to the sheriff’s office that burglars stole three guns Sunday afternoon from the 4200 block of Montana Road north of Ottawa. The loss was estimated at $640.
Tuesday, July 129, 2 p.m.
OTTAWA — A moving experience resulted in a kiss by a couch for a Texas motorist Saturday morning. John Welsh, 37, Austin, Texas; was driving south on I-35 near the Eisenhower Road interchange when a couch came off a trailer and hit his vehicle, Ottawa Police said. Police cited Michael Swan, 23, Olathe, for an unsecure load. There were no injuries.
Tuesday, July 29, 2 p.m.